Sao Paulo’s stadium is not ready at all for the World Cup


Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium, one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup, is seen during its first test match on May 18. The stadium hosted a second test event on Sunday. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

It’s not a good sign when you give a news conference in front of what looks like plywood. That’s what a FIFA official did, fittingly perhaps, to explain what still needs to be built in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian city set to host to World Cup’s opening ceremonies in 11 days.

With the World Cup less than two weeks away, Sao Paulo stadium held a final test game Sunday. Decor, Internet connections and VIP areas still need work before the matches begin. (Reuters)

First task, per Reuters: Complete the construction on the stadium. FIFA held a second “test match” between two Brazilian clubs on Sunday at which just less than 40,000 people could attend because of incomplete construction testing of two sets of temporary bleachers. Full capacity for the stadium is roughly 70,000.

“The full bleacher capacity could not be used because the fire department had not performed weight stress tests yet,” the LA Times reports, adding that the test are set to be performed Wednesday.

The bleachers, however, aren’t the only issue. A reporter for Sky Sports at the test event writes:

“One end of the £300 million ($500 million) stadium is very much unfinished. It has no roof and it just looked like scaffolding with no attempt yet to hide a pretty ugly facade.”

The LA Times reports:

“…[M]inor interior parts of the impressive stadium were visibly unfinished, with concrete walls exposed or construction materials lying on unused parts of the stands.”

Besides being unpleasant to look at, the real consequence of the unfinished work is that FIFA will not be able to hold a single full-capacity test event at the stadium before Brazil takes on Croatia at the opener on June 12. According to the Associated Press, the organization usually likes to test the venue three times.

[Need a World Cup ticket? FIFA is about to release 180,000 of them]

Along with the construction of the stadium, a FIFA official listed a number of other tasks — yes, in front of what looks like plywood — that still need to be done: 

  • Installation of sponsor placements
  • Completion and installation of temporary structures for the events
  • “Some things associated with Internet connections”
  • Installation of televisions
  • Completion of VIP areas
  • Installation of decorations, furnishings and plants

Logistics may also be an issue. Local media complained at a news conference after the game that fans without tickets were able to enter the stadium and watch the game while other fans found entries blocked, according to the LA Times, which writes:

“During the match, fans wandered from one section of the stadium to others, passing by empty stands and floors covered with tape. At one snack shop, five workers stood idly, only to inform approaching customers that they had no food to sell.”

Tiago Pael, the general manager for the Sao Paulo organizing committee, is optimistic, however, that things will be resolved by the start of the competition. He said via the LA Times:

“Everything is going to get better, I have no doubt. By the semifinal match [on July 9], we’ll be able to run this place with our eyes closed. Over the next week and a half, we have a lot of work to do.”

Sao Paulo, the capital of Brazil Brazil’s largest city, isn’t the only host city with issues at its stadiums. The stadiums in Natal and Porto Alegre are also still under construction, LA Times reports. Of course, before you can witness games in some of the smaller, more out-of-the-way cities — whether the stands are complete or not — you have to get there

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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